Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Interesting Study

I just finished reading an article about a study that suggests that the more religious a person is, the more afraid of death they actually are.

I'm sure there are jokes there. Really funny ones, even. I'm just not going to try to find them. My agnosticism hasn't turned me into an asshole and I actually think the reason for these results has less to do with hypocrisy than it does with the type of person who would mark religion as "the most important thing that keeps you going." After all, how strongly someone weighted that statement was the way they determined whether or not a person was in the pious group. I sure a lot of believers don't use religion to "keep going" at all. Instead it's more of how they choose to go.

Still, I do find it a little ironic. That dude who was grilled for his belief back in the early years of Christianity would be so ashamed of his religious descendants.

Dammit, I made a joke after all.

9 comments:

JustinS said...

Huh...

I'd have assumed the relationship was reversed, that the more afraid of death someone is the more religious he becomes.

Although this does make sense, too... How much of organized religion is predicated on guilt? "God knows what you're doing in the bathroom, Timmy!" and all that. If you spent your life being told that the natural things you do and feel are all wrong wrong wrong and that some omniscient being's gonna call you on 'em when you kick the bucket... Yeah, I can see how that might make a person afraid of dying.

Mickey said...

If you don't believe in any punishment or reward after death, then what's to be afraid of?

courtney said...

JustinS makes a good point. And I didn't know you were agnostic. I thought you were Baptist for some reason. (Maybe that's how you were raised, I don't know.)

I think people can be as religious as they claim to be and still fear death. It's only natural.

But this does remind me of that Simpsons episode where Flanders talks about "that horrible day when Maude went to heaven."

Chris said...

Hm. Yes, it is a little tough to know what to make of this study -- particularly since it focused on terminally ill cancer patients as its subjects. As I'm sure you've noticed, a lot of people suddenly get a lot more religious when they're in trouble or have been told they only have X months to live.

The heavy focus on the afterlife is one of my many frustrations with the way people practice Christianity. As I see it, Christianity is at its best when it improves the way you live this current life. As my pastor puts it, a lot of preachers have gotten in the habit of preaching about Jesus as "fire insurance". Sad, but true. The message should be a lot more than that.

Meaghan said...

I basically think everyone makes good points here, and as for you being agnostic - I won't put a label on you if you don't put one on me. I know exactly what you mean about people identifying you a certain way. I go to a Baptist church but I don't consider myself Baptist.

Julie said...

I agree with Chris. Religion should be used to guide life, not death.

I would wonder what age has to do with the study? People generally don't start to worry about (and fear) dying until they are getting up in years. I also think that older people are more likely to agree with a statement that says religion "keeps you going."

A Free Man said...

What Mickey said. And you too. I'm firmly rooted in the 'not-sure-about-anything-but-pretty-damn-sure-I-don't-want-to-have-anything-to-do-with-religion-camp' but I don't get all Dawkins-y about it. As much as I respect his science, Dawkins is a dick.

courtney said...

Now that you mention those posts, I remember them. I guess I had just forgotten. I personally don't feel a need to put a label on what I believe, but I know I'm not big on organized religion. I believe there are as many religions as there are people in the world. People can say they don't pick and choose what they believe, but everyone does.

Anyway, I think we can all agree that Dawkins is a douchebucket.

Jacob said...

Courtney: Please stick to this thread's preferred terminology for referring to Dawkin's asshattery. His name is Richard, so we will only call him a dick for pun purposes.

And I just don't think it matters. One's religious belief has more to do with geography and family history than any other factor.